As many of our clients know, Google Apps is a powerful business communication system that includes email, calendaring, documents, and more. The spam and virus filtering in Google Apps is extremely effective and rivals many solutions that are much more expensive.
It allows your organization to enjoy enterprise-class communications tools branded with your domain name. These tools are hosted in the cloud, which means there is no hardware or software to buy and maintain. Your employees simply use a web browser to access their email, schedules, and documents.
Google's enterprise tools are well-suited for organizations of all sizes. However, there are two versions to choose from: the Standard (free) version and the Business version (formerly called the "Premier" version).
I'm often asked what the difference is. After all, if you can get by with the free version, that's the obvious choice, right? Here are some of the differences in the two versions.
Google Apps Standard
This version is free and has a limit of 50 users. It includes email, calendaring, documents, and basic spam/virus filtering. It comes with 7 GB of space per user, which is fairly generous. It allows mobile access and connectivity via email programs like Outlook and Apple Mail. However, the free version does not come with support or any sort of uptime guarantee. Using the Standard version of Google Apps means that you are basically on your own when it comes to configuration and usage.
Some organizations are a good fit for this service. For example, an informal club or team might use this service because they have simple needs and don't necessarily need support or guaranteed business continuity.
Google Apps for Business
Google Apps for Business is priced at $50 per user per year and may include a setup fee if you would like assistance configuring and implementintg it. The Business version supports an unlimited number of users. In addition, each user is alloted 25 GB of space. A few other features of the Business version include Google Video for Business, Google Groups for Business, and greater security. Google Video allows your organization to store videos in a private intranet for training or support purposes. Google Groups gives your organization the ability to share knowledge and communication with a searchable subscription group that archves discussions for future reference.
The most important part of Google Apps for Business is the support and uptime guarantee. If your business relies on consistent communication services (as most do), then you will want to use the Business version. This version comes with a 99.9% uptime guarantee and customer support, either from Google or from a Google Apps Authorized Reseller.
Google Apps for Business includes customizable policies to filter email containing sensitive information. For example, you could block all emails that contain .exe files or any other file type that you want to exclude. Along with these option also comes email archiving and discovery tools. The calendar application also allows resource scheduling which allows your organization to set up conference rooms and equipment that can be reserved by employees when scheduling meetings.
Another nice feature of the Business version is the option to disable ads in the web interface. The Standard version displays ads in the email viewer (just like Gmail) but the Business version allows you to turn them off.
Both versions of Google Apps work very well but as you can see, there is a tradeoff between the Standard and Business versions. If you are comfortable editing your own domain records and don't have a need for enterprise reliability, the Standard version may work for you. If your organization depends on email, calendaring, or document management for daily operations, the Business version may be a better fit.
Either way, moving to Google Apps will streamline your business communications and provide your organization with powerful tools for collaboration.